Is a juice detox a good idea?

Dr Nick Fuller
Leading Obesity Expert at the University of Sydney and founder of Interval Weight Loss.

You turn the corner and can’t help but notice yet another juice bar. Millions of people are now guzzling down juice each day and there is no shortage of celebrities that have also jumped on the juicy movement – Nicole Ritchie, Megan Fox, Edward Norton and Gwyneth Paltrow, to name just a few. 

There are many reasons we are now resorting to juice – for some it’s a detox, for others it’s considered “clean eating”, some simply want to add a nutrient packed meal to their diet, whilst others do it to lose weight.

But is this trend good for our health and is all the hype worth it? 

Like most wellness crazes this too has its pros and cons. 

The pros of juicing:

1. Packed with nutrition

Yes - vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and more vitamins! Even if you aren’t absorbing all the vitamins from the juice, it’s sure to make you feel better even if only for the placebo effect.

2. Alleviates constipation

Most people will tell you that juicing makes them more regular. Even though this might be the case you will also improve your bowel movements if you drink more water and swap the juice for a piece of fruit.

The cons:

1. Weight loss

A juicing detox or juice fast results in rapid weight loss. BUT any calorie elimination from your diet is going to result in rapid weight loss. You won’t keep it off and the weight will pile back on when you re-introduce food. The rapid weight loss is also likely to result in a large loss of muscle mass which is a bad position to be in as muscle regulates our metabolism, helping to keep the weight off. Worse still, the addition of juicing and smoothies to your current eating plan is likely to result in weight gain.

2. A body cleanse

A juice cleanse or detox is not needed to cleanse your body of toxins. There is no such thing as a detox. This is clever marketing and absolute nonsense. The body does this process on its own – just don’t feed it a diet based on processed food all the time and include plenty of wholesome and nutritious foods.

3. Nutritional gaps

Following a juicing diet is devoid of protein, fat and many vitamins and minerals.  It also means you miss out on one of the most important and filling parts of the fruit or vegetable – fibre. Fibre is found in the pulp and it’s the key component of fruits and vegetables that is not only important for our health but also helps fill you up.

4. Calorie-packed

A large glass of juice will typically have 2.5 times the energy content and one third the fibre content of a piece of fruit. A smoothie has even more – the additional ingredients means it will have around 4 times the calorie content of a piece of fruit.

5. Left feeling hungry

Calories from liquid are not as satiating. When you juice or blend you do not getting the same filling effect when compared to eating the whole food. The end result is you simply feel hungry all the time.  

6. It’s expensive

Even if you juice at home it will still add up. Compare the price of eating an orange versus having to juice 4 oranges to make one glass. Juicing ends up resulting in a low yield of juice per kilo of fresh produce.

The take-home message: When it comes to juicing, the list of bad significantly outweigh the good. With the majority of the population now struggling with their weight, this calorie-packed form of adding nutrition to your diet isn’t the way to go! Instead, eat the whole fruit or vegetable and save the juicing to the Hollywood celebrities.

About Dr Nick Fuller

Dr Nick Fuller is the founder of Interval Weight Loss and is a leading obesity expert at the University of Sydney with a Ph.D. in Obesity Treatment. Dr Fuller is also the author of three best-selling books and his work been published in top ranked journals in the medical field, including JAMA, Lancet and American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.